Taking an undersized college quarterback in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL draft turned out to be one of the best selections of Bill Belichick’s tenure as head coach of the New England Patriots. The player picked, Kent State’s Julian Edelman, became one of the league’s most productive wide receivers and punt returners over the last eight years.
Edelman, however, was unsure whether or not the team would actually invest a draft pick in him back in 2009. Yesterday, the 30-year old was a guest on NFL Network's "Total Access" and asked about his story from positionless quarterback to non-invitee for the scouting combine to the league's premier franchise.
Edelman (via nesn.com) started talking about his pre-draft workouts. Since he was not invited to Indianapolis to partake in the scouting combine, the NFL-hopeful had to impress during his pro day and individual workouts with interested teams. Given his abilities to perform as a passer in the wildcat package, which was en vogue during that time, multiple franchises displayed interest. One of them, the Patriots.
New England first sent running backs coach Ivan Fears to work out Edelman before a second workout with special teams coordinator Scott O’Brien. The two sessions apparently were all the information the team needed as Edelman was not invited to visit Foxboro. This, in turn, led him to believe that the team did not like what it saw:
The whole time during draft day, I’m like, ‘Well, they didn’t like me, I guess, because they didn’t bring me in for a visit. I don’t even know how it went.’ I’m sitting here, and I’m watching Miami, because Miami brought me in for a visit, so I thought that would be kind of a cool place to go. They ended up getting Pat White [...]
With one draft round after the other going by, going undrafted became a realistic scenario for Edelman and his agent (who is also Tom Brady’s) Don Yee. Consequently, Yee started fielding calls by teams expressing interest in making Edelman a priority free agent. Among those teams were the Green Bay Packers:
I’m sitting there, and all of a sudden my agent hits me up in like the sixth or seventh round, and we had like 10 teams call for me to be a priority free agent. We were thinking of signing with Green Bay if that happens, so I was going to sign with Green Bay. We thought it would be in the best interest for me to make the team.
The Packers, however, did not get the chance to sign Edelman post-draft as the Patriots drafted him with the 232nd overall pick. The pick was originally acquired in a draft-day trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Like 20 minutes later, I get a call from Bill Belichick saying — it started off with this guy Berj [Najarian, Director of Football/Head Coaching Administration] if you know New England, he’s like this do-it-all. So, Berj, shout out to you, Berj. Bill comes on the phone and goes, ‘Yeah, we don’t know what you’re going to play, but you can play football, so see you in camp.'
Eight years later, Edelman is a two-time Super Bowl champion, New England's number one wide receiver, and number three all-time on the list of postseason pass catchers with 89 receptions. All in all, the Patriots should be pretty happy with investing in Edelman.